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Conflict. Who hasn’t run into it? Conflict can happen for lots of reasons. Your interests and your prospect’s may not match. Your priorities and your client’s may be out of synch. Your prospect wants to work at a budget level that’s too low for you. You can’t find a way to persuade a current client that your approach will help.

When conflict jumps out at you, you’d better have some conflict-management techniques to fall back on. Here are some to consider:

Forcing: This is also known as competing. You push for your viewpoint despite what a client says or does. Sometimes forcing gets you to a quick resolution of differences, sometimes not. So be careful. If you force an issue you may put your relationship in danger that’ll last a long time. And forcing may prompt a prospect to force back, even if he or she didn’t intend to be forceful when your conversation began.

Win-Win: Otherwise known as collaborating, problem confronting, or problem solving. When you collaborate, you work to find a solution to a problem at hand, one that satisfies your concerns and those of your client. When you go for win-win, you see conflict as an opportunity to arrive at a result that’s mutually beneficial. Win-win works best when consensus and commitment are critical. Win-win gets the best results when a long-term relationship is important, and a high level of trust is present.

Compromising: This approach works when you need an expedient that satisfies you and a prospect. Compromising works when your goals are only moderately important and not worth the need to be forcing or collaborating. Compromising helps to get to a faster resolution, or a temporary solution, while you’re looking for a way to a win-win solution. On the other hand, compromising may not produce an acceptable solution for you both. And you both may need to monitor the situation closely to make sure you both meet an agreement.

Withdrawing: This is also known as avoiding, and happens when you don’t pursue your concerns or interests or those of a client. In this way you avoid conflict. But be careful. Withdrawing only works best when the issue in question is trivial and not worth your effort. When more important issues are at hand, it’s wise to let something go. Sometimes, it’s neither the right time nor the right place to put the effort out for a result. For example, you may be unable to confront an issue because you’re too emotionally involved or because other people can handle the situation better than you.

Smoothing: Some refer to this as accommodating. Like when you accommodate the concerns of a client first, instead of your concerns. Smoothing can pay off when it’s important to get temporary relief from a conflict or to buy yourself time until you’re in a better position to respond about a matter or to push back. Smoothing generally helps to protect more important issues while you give up on some lesser ones. Smoothing can help you to reassess a conflict situation from a new perspective. Then again, smoothing can make it more difficult for you to transition to a win-win solution in the days ahead. The important thing to remember is that not every conflict-management approach works well all the time. You need to think before you act and to have the sensitivity to judge which approach fits right with the situation you’re dealing with.

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